CMS Stops Publicly Reporting Certain Hospital-Acquired Conditions

August 7, 2014 in News

CMS this month stopped publicly reporting data on eight hospital-acquired conditions, USA Today reports (O’Donnell, USA Today, 8/6).

Background

In 2005, CMS began posting quality ratings for more than 3,000 U.S. hospitals on its Hospital Compare website.

The site first included data on adherence to basic clinical care guidelines and later expanded to include additional information, such as patient experience scores, readmission rates, mortality rates and complication rates (iHealthBeat, 4/18).

In 2011, CMS expanded the Hospital Compare site to include facility-specific data on eight HACs:

  • Air embolism;
  • Blood incompatibility;
  • Catheter-associated infections;
  • Falls and trauma;
  • Foreign objects left in body after surgery;
  • Pressure ulcers;
  • Uncontrolled blood sugar levels; and
  • Urinary tract infections.

However, CMS last year removed data on the eight HACs from the website.

CMS said it removed the data in part because some of the measures were redundant.

In addition, CMS noted that the Measure Applications Partnership — which was created by the Affordable Care Act — recommended that the agency replace the measures with hospital-acquired condition data endorsed by the National Quality Forum (iHealthBeat, 5/3/13).

The agency kept the data on a public spreadsheet that could be accessed by researchers, patient advocates and consumers “savvy enough to translate” the information.

Latest Change

This month, CMS stopped making the spreadsheet available to the public, meaning CMS is reporting data on just 13 measures of HACs, including bloodstream infections and post-operative sepsis.

In addition, the move forces researchers to determine HAC rates by analyzing claims data (USA Today, 8/6).

Reaction

According to CMS spokesperson Aaron Albright, the new measures — which are endorsed by NQF — are “more comprehensive” and relevant to consumers (Hays, UPI, 8/6).

NQF spokesperson Ann Grenier said the organization supports the new measures because the old data were not “appropriate for comparing one hospital to another” (USA Today, 8/6).

However, some consumer advocates say CMS should have worked to strengthen the measures rather than removing them from the site completely.

Leapfrog Group CEO Leah Binder says, “People deserve to know if the hospital down the street from them had a disastrous event and should be able to judge for themselves whether that’s a reasonable indicator of the safety of that hospital” (Sullivan, FierceHealthcare, 8/6).

American Hospital Association spokesperson Nancy Foster said that the importance of reporting reliable data should be stressed. She argued that making unreliable data public does not benefit hospitals or patients “and defeats the purpose” of reporting such data in the first place (USA Today, 8/6).

 

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